Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 156

Like leaders in a number of other foreign capitals, Clinton administration officials yesterday breathed a sigh of relief over the tentative cease-fire agreement reached earlier in Chechnya. A State Department spokesman said that the U.S. welcomes the agreement and views it as a "positive step forward" that could, officials hope, lead to a political settlement of the Chechen crisis.

Washington’s response to yesterday’s developments fit into a broader pattern of low-key comments on the war in Chechnya that, according to The Washington Post, are driven by the Clinton administration’s belief that the conflict — however grim it may be–does not represent an imminent threat to Russian stability. Administration officials reportedly suggest that the visible disarray in the Kremlin reflects genuine confusion over policy in Chechnya rather than a full-scale power struggle in the Kremlin that could threaten President Boris Yeltsin’s authority. They also insist that Yeltsin continues to make key decisions, despite his disappearance from public view. According to the Post, administration officials bolster this relatively sanguine assessment of developments in Russia with the observation that the new cabinet does have a "generally pro-reform cast" with "mostly the right people in economic positions." Taking a longer view, they also reportedly insist that there is more good news than bad in Russia, and that the country’s uneven evolution toward democracy is on track. (Washington Post, August 22)

Yeltsin Completes His Cabinet, Adds Opposition Leader.